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The Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to suppress drug evidence law enforcement officers discovered after searching a car Kimberly Motley was driving and in which Defendant was a passenger, holding that the facts available to the officers when Motley consented to the search were sufficient to warrant a person of reasonable caution to believe Motley had authority over the passenger floorboard and zipper bag on the floorboard. The search of the passenger floorboard of the car revealed a black zipper bag, inside of which were methamphetamine, marijuana, and drug paraphernalia. The officers later learned the zipper bag belonged to Defendant. Defendant was convicted of possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia. On appeal, Defendant argued that the district court erred in denying her motion to suppress because it was unreasonable for the officers to believe that Motley’s consent extended to the search of the zipper bag. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that when Motley gave her consent, it was objectively reasonable for the officers to believe Motley had authority over the zipper bag. View "State v. Boggess" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice action, the Supreme Court affirmed the jury’s verdict in favor of Plaintiffs on causation issues but reversed and vacated the $550,000 monetary award, holding (1) Plaintiffs established a causal link between Defendants’ inadequate medical treatment and the suicide of Defendants’ patient; but (2) the evidence supporting the economic damages losses impermissibly distorted the distinction between economic and noneconomic damages. Specifically, the Court held (1) the jury instructions on causation were legally and factually appropriate; (2) the expert testimony was legally sufficient to establish that Defendants’ negligence caused the patient’s suicide; but (3) the award of economic damages for “loss of attention, care, and loss of a complete family” failed the established standard that each item established as an economic loss must be capable of being valued using either expert testimony or the jury’s common-sense understanding about what an item of actual loss costs in the marketplace. See Wentling v. Medical Anesthesia Services, 701 P.2d 939 (Kan. 1985). View "Burnette v. Eubanks" on Justia Law

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In this medical malpractice action the Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the trial court finding Defendant negligent and the awarding damages to his deceased patient’s heirs and estate, holding that any error in the proceedings below did not require reversal. On appeal, Defendant argued, among other things, that the district court improperly instructed the jury on causation because the instructions permitted the jury to impose liability without finding the deceased patient’s injuries would not have occurred “but-for” his negligence. The Supreme Court held (1) in light of today’s holding in Burnette v. Eubanks, __ P.3d __, the trial court did not err in instructing the jury that Defendant was at fault when Defendant’s “negligence caused or contributed to the event which brought about the claims for damages”; (2) during closing argument, Plaintiffs’ counsel improperly urged the jury to decide the case on concerns other than the law and the evidence, but there was no reasonable probability the verdict would have been different without this error; and (3) the district court did not abuse its discretion by permitting experts to present standard-of-care testimony that doctors must “err on the safe side.” View "Castleberry v. DeBrot" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction of first-degree premeditated murder of his wife and his sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole for fifty years, holding that there was no reversible error in the trial proceedings. Specifically, the Court held (1) Defendant did not appropriately object to the State’s attempt to rehabilitate a jailhouse informant’s credibility; (2) the district court did not err in admitting testimony from another witness who described Defendant as controlling of his wife; (3) the district court did not err in failing to instruct the jury on heat of passion voluntary manslaughter; and (4) no cumulative error occurred. View "State v. Campbell" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the district court’s denial of Defendant’s motion to file a late appeal, holding that the district court improperly considered irrelevant, outside the record information in deciding that Defendant’s testimony that he told his trial counsel he wanted to appeal was not credible. On appeal, Defendant asked the Supreme Court to reverse the district court’s decision and allow his appeal to be filed out of time, arguing that the trial court arbitrarily disregarded his testimony that he told his trial counsel that he wanted to appeal immediately, evidence that would help him meet an exception to the rule requiring timely appeal. The Supreme Court reversed without performing the particular analysis requested by Defendant, holding that two actions suggested bias or prejudice sufficient to corrode this Court’s confidence in the district court’s ruling that Defendant was not credible. The Court remanded the case to a different judge to make the credibility determination anew. View "State v. Smith" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming Defendant’s conviction for driving under the influence (DUI), holding that the lower courts did not err when they concluded that Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3201(g) permitted the State to endorse a witness on the day of trial. On appeal from the decision of the court of appeals panel, Defendant argued that the panel erred when it affirmed the district court’s decision to allow the late endorsement of the witness at issue because Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3201(g) prohibits such a late endorsement. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under the line of cases interpreting section 22-3201(g) and its predecessors, Defendant was required to object to the late endorsement of the witness and request a continuance to show reversible error on appeal; and (2) because Defendant did not request a continuance, the court of appeals correctly ruled in favor of the State. View "State v. Brosseit" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court’s summary denial of Defendant’s motion to correct an illegal sentence under Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3504, holding that a motion to correct an illegal sentence cannot be used to collaterally attack a district court’s evidentiary finding that a defendant violated the terms and conditions of probation. In his motion, Defendant challenged the revocation of his probation more than sixteen years earlier, arguing (1) his probation revocation was illegal because no valid probation violation had been established, and (2) because the revocation of his probation was not authorized by the applicable statutory provision, Kan. Stat. Ann. 22-3716, the resulting sentence was illegal. The district court summarily dismissed Defendant’s motion. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that a probation violator cannot use section 22-3504 to collaterally attack the district court’s guilt determination at a probation violation hearing. View "State v. Horton" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court held in this wrongful death lawsuit that a landowner whose property abuts a rural intersection owes no duty to passing drivers to trim or remove trees or other vegetation on the property. The estate and heirs of a deceased driver who was involved in a fatal two-car accident at a rural intersection sued the owners of property located at one corner of the intersection, alleging that an overgrowth of trees and vegetation obstructed the view at the intersection and contributed to the accident. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the circumstances, the landowners did not owe a common-law duty to passing drivers to correct a natural condition on their property that affected road visibility at the rural intersection. View "Manley v. Hallbauer" on Justia Law

Posted in: Personal Injury

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The Supreme Court affirmed the sentence imposed upon Defendant following remand, holding that there was no reversible error in the trial court’s judgment. Defendant was convicted of first-degree premeditated murder, felony murder, and abuse of an infant victim. The Supreme Court affirmed Defendant’s conviction on appeal but remanded to the trial court for a new sentencing hearing. After a sentencing trial on remand, the jury sentenced Defendant to a minimum term of imprisonment of fifty years, to run consecutive with the sentence imposed for the other counts at the first trial. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) assuming, without deciding, that the admission of a witness’s transcribed testimony was erroneous, the error was harmless; and (2) there was sufficient evidence supported the jury’s conclusion that Defendant committed a felony that inflicted great bodily harm or disfigurement. View "State v. Lloyd" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law

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The Supreme Court vacated Defendant’s sentence for involuntary manslaughter while driving under the influence (DUI), a sentence that was based on a prior conviction in Wichita Municipal Court as a person felony, holding that a conviction under the Wichita DUI ordinance does not count as a prior DUI, scored in this case as a person felony, because it prohibits a broader range of conduct than state law. The court of appeals agreed with Defendant that the breadth of prohibited acts under the Wichita ordinance precluded Defendant’s conviction under the ordinance from being counted as a person felony under Kan. Stat. Ann. 21-6811(c)(2) and thus vacated Defendant’s sentence. The Supreme Court affirmed and remanded this case for resentencing, holding (1) the Wichita ordinance prohibits a broader range of conduct than that prohibited under Kan. Stat. Ann. 8-1567; and (2) therefore, Defendant’s prior Wichita DUI should not have been included as a person felony in his criminal history score for purposes of sentencing on his conviction of involuntary manslaughter under Kan. Stat. 21-5405(a)(3). View "State v. Schrader" on Justia Law

Posted in: Criminal Law